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Gallagher's Choice

Set in 1880s Montana

Gallagher's Choice
an excerpt from

Montana Gallagher Series

from Chapter One

Montana Territory, October 1883

I won’t be far behind you. Ramsey’s words echoed through Eliza’s thoughts. When she had asked for time to prepare her family for his return, she didn’t expect this much time. There’s something I have to do, he had told her. They now had more to lose than ever before—a new generation of Gallaghers lived at Hawk’s Peak.

I won’t be far behind you.

Eliza had been able to hold off the inevitable tongue-lashing she knew her brothers wanted to deliver, but she’d be unable to forestall them much longer. For now, she could be grateful their ire was directed elsewhere.

“You remember what we talked about, Eliza?” Ethan glanced briefly at his brother and then looked directly at her.

Eliza nodded. “I remember, but just this time.”

“We’ll take what we can get, sis,” Gabriel said.

“That’s settled then.” Ethan stood to move from behind the desk. “Gabriel will take two men and head north, and I’ll take two more and head south in case Jeb misinformed us. If we leave tomorrow, we may be able to catch up with Hunter, or at the very least, discover exactly where he’s going. The rest of the men will stay here—we still have cattle to look after and we’re not leaving any of you alone. Now, I’ll go out and let the men know the—”

“Rider coming in!” someone shouted from outside. Ethan rushed to the window and Gabriel quickly joined him. The snow had stopped, and now the cold air misted around the mountains. Eliza stood beside them and saw the lines of the horse and man as they raced over frozen earth toward them. Something familiar stood out about the rider, and Eliza moved to the railing in an attempt to see more of him. Broad shoulders filled a dark coat, open to show the heavy woolen shirt beneath. His brown felt hat remained in place despite the speed of his ride. Long limbs fell on either side of the magnificent stallion—a horse familiar to Eliza.

The rider came to an abrupt stop in front of the hitching post and lifted deep green eyes to the three on the porch. Gabriel heard his sister gasp and turned to her, but her eyes remained on the man sitting atop a thoroughbred similar to his Zeus.

“What’s going on?” Gabriel faced his sister. “Do you know this man?”

Ethan hit the side of Gabriel’s arm and walked to the edge of the porch. “Take a closer look, brother.”

Gabriel did and when the man stared back, seven years slipped away. “Ramsey?”

“Sorry I’m late, Gallagher.” Ramsey remained on his horse. “I had a devil of a time with the weather through the pass.”

“What are you talking about?” Ethan’s gaze shifted back and forth between Ramsey and his sister. Both continued to stare at each other. “We heard you’d be coming out this way, but as I live and breathe Ramsey, I didn’t believe it.”

“I could have used an extra week, but Gabriel’s friend, Jeb, said you needed a marshal fast. He found me on the trail outside of Bozeman.”

Eliza spoke up. “What does that have to do with—oh my.”

Ramsey moved the edge of his heavy coat aside to reveal the small, round silver badge pinned to his wool vest.

“How is that possible? You didn’t say—”

“There’s a lot I didn’t tell you, Eliza.” Ramsey dismounted and tied his horse to the post. He took a moment to glance around at the men approaching from two sides. “I’m glad to see you have numbers,” he said and moved up to the porch.

Gabriel leaned against the railing. “You’re the marshal?”

“When?” Eliza took a few steps toward Ramsey.

“Just after you left.” Ramsey smiled at her. “I figured it would come in handy.”


Excerpted from Gallagher's Choice by MK McClintock. Copyright © 2013 by MK McClintock. Published by Trappers Peak Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author or publisher.

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